Railway budget reality check
“Cows become sick if they are not milked fully” – this was the quote from Lalu that supposedly captures the railways’ miraculous turnaround. We are told that the turnaround is so miraculous that leading business schools like IIM-A are studying it. This article by the ministers own “Officer on Special Duty” lavishes praise on the turnaround story. Others want to see more detail.
I must admit I have a mental block analyzing anything remotely related to Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav. I used to think he was cute and funny in the mid-nineties. That wore off pretty quick. Not his neem toothbrush, not his pajamas, not his cow and buffalo stories. His act has worn out on me. Yes, I am talking about his 15 year rule of Bihar, where he led tens of millions into a living hell. There have been poor administrators before him. The real problem was his reign coincided with the great economic opportunities post-liberalization. Other states took advantage to various extents, but he passed and passed. He knowingly plunged his state into lawless caste-based goondaism. To me, this reality cannot be escaped by any amount of media sponsored cuteness. It will take decades for Bihar to recover, simply because it takes time to settle blood money dues.
He still wins elections, but he uses the magic wand donated by the “Wizards from the lands of no data”. You all know that you cant fight the magic wand from the land of no data, dont ya ? He just has to wave it and *ppooof* – all your “IIM economic capitalistic socialist communist science privatization ideas” vaporize instantly!
Now, back to the railway budget. I was watching all TV anchors frothing at the turnaround story with no concrete details. If just loading the rakes beyond capacity can result in $5B in the bank, why wasnt it done earlier ? Are the same accounting procedures being used ?
As far as the eye can see, I see no visible change in the railways in the past five years. Same filthy stations, same trains and coaches, same toilets that fertilize the land for free, same overloading, same touts and unregulated connections from stations to the cities. No new parking lots. In fact, the automatic platform ticket vending machines at the Chennai Central have broken everytime I want to use them (dozens of times over the past two years). The IRCTC website is functional but we had it five years earlier and it was the almost the same.
To summarize :
What used to work, still works.
What didnt, doesnt.